(Also posted on SpoutBlog)
So a lot of folks are feeling the sting of change with the upcoming release of Steven Soderbergh's new film Bubble, his first of six features he'll be making as part of Mark Cuban's plan for disrupting the movie industry. I think some of the outcry around releasing Bubble simultaneously in theaters, on DVD, and on the Internet is perfectly understandable. Change is always painful. Just ask those studio moguls who thought "Talkies" would never take off.
Soderbergh is quoted as saying, "Everything changes and evolves and
we've got to get with it, embrace it and find a way to make it work."
Richard Johnson at Page 6 published an article yesterday to make the point that Soderbergh's track record of films that have not made money nullify him from being able to comment on the industry. The Reeler has justly rushed to the defense of those numbers to prove that Soderbergh has made more money than Page 6 claims, but I think an important point in this argument has been overlooked.
Soderbergh is an artist who knows that in order to make a film in the system that gives him the freedom to experiment (see Full Frontal), he has to do it on the cheap. Johnson throws out all of these big budgets that didn't make their weight back in the box-office to prove that Soderbergh doesn't have a mind for business. I would say he's got a mind for the business, but more importantly he has a mind for the art of making film.
Conventional wisdom would say that a large budget for a film equals a happier director, but I think Soderbergh has learned that, in fact, less money often equals more freedom. A huge budget, for an artist, can make him feel like the Grinch's little pooch with an antler strapped to his head trying in vain to haul a sleigh overloaded with toys up the mountain, and all the while the Grinch is cracking a whip across his furry tail.
The numbers quoted in the Page 6 article just go to show me that Soderbergh is familiar with the sting of the lash and he is looking for the next evolution. The evolution when the war between business and art returns to a more healthy balance and frees him up to be less business executive and more artist.